To tackle drug addiction, the Jammu and Kashmir government has proposed to start drug de-addiction services in all hospitals, officials said on Tuesday.
The proposal has come in the wake of the phenomenal increase in drug addiction cases. The required facilities have been projected in drug de-addiction policy draft submitted to health and medical education (H&ME) department.
“We have proposed to start drug de-addiction services at district, sub-district hospitals and primary health centres in JK to provide early diagnosis, treatment to substantial abusers,” said an official, privy to a 3-member committee constituted for the policy proposal.
The proposal focuses on awareness and accessibility to treatment which is a major issue drug addicts are facing due to non-availability of the skilled manpower in hospitals.
“To start these facilities in hospitals we don’t need infrastructure but manpower like counsellors, psychologists, social workers, nurses who will be dedicated for de-addiction only,” the official said.
The policy has also envisaged preventive service and rehabilitation of chronic patients under different government schemes at community-level to discourage drug addicts.
“Rehabilitation in a controlled environment is not fruitful. After treatment of addicts, they need to be adjusted by way of skill building in the community,” he said.
Doctors at GMC Srinagar have also proposed to build drug de-addiction centre of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital as a nodal centre for training, research and clinical work of manpower.
“We have also proposed medical insurance which should cover expenses of the drug de-addiction cases to avoid the financial burden on their families,” an official said.
Calling the policy sketch an integrated modal of de-addiction services he said they have suggested training to Asha and Anganwadi workers who work in the community to sensitize people towards addiction problems.
Health official said de-addiction needs treatment like other diseases. “It is a medical disease and needs to be tackled. Drug addicts are not criminals,” they said.
An official at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences said they have also proposed an advanced drug de-addiction centre for SKIMS Medical College Bemina.
Hospitals across Kashmir are grappling with a shortage of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, which has been also mentioned in the proposal.
Principal Secretary to the Government H&ME, Atal Dulloo said they will also seek suggestions from some other government departments to pave a way against drug addiction.
“There is a larger committee which will see all angles before the policy is given final shape. We will put it in public after taking suggestions from police and education department and Government Medical Colleges,” he said adding that inputs from national experts will also be included.
As per the official figures at SMHS hospital, the cases of drug addiction registered from January 2017 to December 2017 were 4000 while during the year 2016, the cases stood at 2200.
The hospital’s drug de-addiction centre on an average receives 90 drug addiction cases in the Outdoor Patients Department (OPD) every day. The centre which is run by the department of psychiatry GMC is facing the shortage of doctors and paramedical staff.
At Jammu Kashmir Police’s Drug De-addiction Centre, the number of patients admitted has gone up to 331 in 2017 in comparison to the just 105 patients in 2016.
United Nations International Drug Control Program survey conducted in 2008 which had shown that more than 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir, including 4000 women.
Last week the state administration announced to have a drug de-addiction policy to ensure proper rehabilitation of victims of substance abuse and adopt a proactive approach to curb drug addiction.